Newsletter – January 2024

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to the first Natural Basingstoke Newsletter!  Since I took over from Marion as NB Chair, last November, I have been heartened to find out how much local enthusiasm there is for nature and how many people are working one way or another to protect our valuable habitats.
The aim of this newsletter is to share information to help us all keep in touch with one another as by working together I am hopeful that we can achieve more than we each can in isolation.  If you have any ideas for things we could cover or would like to contribute to in future newsletters, please contact me via the email address below.  
Best wishes Gill 

Latest News

NB Groups/ Our ‘Green’ Partners  
New Groups – Following the successful launch of the Overton Hill group last autumn, we have another new group starting up in the spring – Sherfield Park. The Chineham Conservation Group is helping with the launch of this group which is on their doorstep. The first event (in early February) will be replanting The Larches (which was devastated by Ash dieback) with ‘whips’.
Cufaude Lane – Toad Patrols – Just north of Chineham, off the country lane that links Basingstoke to Bramley, we have a nationally important population of Common Toads. The toads regularly migrate across Cufaude Lane which bisects their breeding and hibernation spots. The local Toad Patrol does important work rescuing these toads which are otherwise at great risk of harm from traffic on this well-known ‘rat run’.  Toad patrols will start in February, and it would be fantastic if more Natural Basingstoke members could come along, and help.  You can find more information on Facebook (Cufaude Lane Toad Rescue) or email me at the address below. 

Voice for Nature
The Local Plan – Over the next 20 years, 17,000 new houses are due to be built across Basingstoke and Deane!!! This target is set by central Government so there is little chance it can be changed. What we can do is influence where these houses are built and the standards to which developers are held. Please look out for publicity about public consultation on the Local Plan (which sets out where it is currently planned that these homes will be built) and make sure you have your say!  At the very least we would like to ensure that appropriate areas are set aside for wildlife corridors and that developers are obliged to take simple steps like incorporating swift tiles and bat boxes in developments.
 Local Nature Recovery Strategy – Hampshire County Council is in the process of a producing a Local Nature Recovery Strategy (as they are now legally required to do). The first step is encouraging local residents to complete a questionnaire ( ) to identify important habitats for conservation. We have some reservations about the design of the questionnaire but overall, it is still worth completing as the more people that complete it the better picture Hants County Council will have of the areas of biodiversity value in our area. 

Nature Notes
Galls – Whilst out and about on your sites in the winter months, look out for abnormal tissue growth on plants which may well be galls. Galls can be caused by fungi or bacteria but most notably insects such as gall wasps / sawflies (Hymenoptera), aphids (Homoptera), some months (Lepidoptera) and beetles (Coleoptera). Galls rarely affect their host plants and play an important role in attracting frugivores (like bats and some corvids), which act as seed dispersers. 

Training Courses/ Events
Coppicing Training -On 24th February the Oakley Woodlands Group has kindly offered to run some training in the fine art of coppicing. This has attracted a lot of interest and we are hoping to add another date, for those who were not able to get onto the first course.
Other Training – Over the coming weeks the original Natural Basingstoke training programme will be relaunched, including Martina’s legendary flora courses, invertebrate training and much more! Look out for emails on this and supporting Eventbrite events.
Events – Check out the ‘Events’ section of the NB website (see link below) for information on forthcoming events, including some being run by our ‘green partners’.  

It’s stat time again! All Group Leaders will have received a reminder from Charlie Hindle to submit our ‘hours’ for the last quarter. This is important as it allows BDBC to measure our contribution to supporting biodiversity across the borough and helps everyone get recognition for the important work that they do. I’m probably top of the ‘naughty list’ for not doing this on time but have committed to do better this year!
NB Website – For those that have not already done so, please check out the new NB website (address below). Over the coming weeks, we would like to work with each group to update their pages so that we can use this site to help us reach the public to get people along to your work parties. Facebook:Natural Basingstoke